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Adopting in Nunavut

Public or "Departmental" Adoption

A Departmental adoption occurs when the child being adopted is in the permanent custody of the Director of Child and Family Services. This happens in one of two ways:

  • A birth parent has given the required legal consents and places the child with a social worker.
  • The Court has determined that the birth parent(s) are unable to care for their child and places the child into the permanent custody of the Director of Child and Family Services.

Children may be temporarily placed in foster care before they are placed in an approved adoptive
home. Placement is managed and supervised by social workers who are trained and specialize in adoption work. Departmental adoption placements are regulated to protect the interests of the parties involved and to ensure the best interests of the child. All legislative procedures, regulations, standards and policies pertaining to the NWT Adoption Act are followed.

Many children who are available for adoption and in the permanent custody of the Director of Child and Family Services have special placement or service needs. These children are considered to be special needs for a variety of reasons including:

  • they are part of a sibling group;
  • they were exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero and may have behavioural and learning disabilities;
  • they have difficulty attaching to a new family;
  • they have suffered abuse or neglect and this has delayed their ability to learn and develop; or they have a combination of the above

Steps for Public or "Departmental" Adoptions in the Northwest Territories:

If you're a resident of the Northwest Territories and want to adopt through Family Services, the first step is to contact your local Social Services Office. A social worker will be able to answer any questions and provide more information.

STEP 1- Application: If you've decided that you're interested in applying to adopt, you must complete an Application to Adopt a Child. Included with the form must be all of the required documentation listed on the application such as a Birth Certificate, Criminal Record's Check, Reference Letters, and a Medical Examination.

STEP 2 - Adoptions Family Assessment and Pre-placement Report: Once the Director of Adoption processes the Application to Adopt, a social worker will contact you to arrange appointments to complete an Adoptions Family Assessment. This Assessment will lead to the preparation of the written Pre-placement report (a.k.a. the homestudy).

During the Adoptions Family Assessment, your social worker and you will explore with you such topics as your family history, education and employment history, your hobbies, financial situation, your home and community as well as your relationships. This will also be a time where you'll discuss your thoughts and ideas about parenting as well as your feelings, views and expectations about adoption.

The Adoption Family Assessment helps you and your social worker decide whether adoption is right for your family. The assessment and process of meeting with you will lead the social worker to make a decision in recommending and approving your family. It also helps workers determine if your family is capable in meeting the needs of specific children.

STEP 3 - Decision of Director of Adoption: Based on your Pre-placement report (homestudy), the Director of Adoption decides whether you will be an approved family to adopt. If this is the case, your family is now considered ready to receive a child who is legally free for adoption. The Director will advise you in writing about the approval and your name will be placed on the list of approved adoptive homes in waiting.

STEP 4- Proposing a Child: The Director of Adoption will decide on a suitable match between you and a child who is available for adoption. The Director will then send the information to your social worker who will then propose the child to you for consideration. You're provided with all available information about the child such as his/her social history, medical and family history. Identifying information about the child's family and location will be deleted as this information is private.

STEP 5 - Placement: When you agree to adopt a child who has been proposed to you, the social worker will make arrangements to have the child come to live with you. These arrangements usually consist of a transition plan consisting of several pre-placement visits for bonding and attachment. The younger the child, the shorter the period of transition.

There is usually a six-month minimum period between the time the child moves into your home and when the final progress report, a Family Union Report, is completed by the social worker. The Family Union Report is the final step before the Director of Adoptions makes the court application.

The issuing by the Court of an Adoption Order would complete the process.

Financial Assistance for Families Adopting Children with Special Needs

The Northwest Territories has a subsidized adoption program that provides financial or other types of assistance to families who adopt children who have been designated by the Director for an adoptions subsidy. These are children who are in the permanent care of the Director of Child and Family Services.

The criteria applied to determine the adoptive parents’ eligibility for a subsidy include:

  • It is desirable for the child to be adopted by the adoptive parents;
  • The adoption would place an undue burden on the financial resources of the adoptive
  • The adoptive parents would be unable to adopt the child without the assistance; and
  • The financial or other assistance proposed is less than the cost to maintain the child in
    foster care.

Financial assistance may include one-time start up costs, such as for equipment; costs to
purchase special services, or ongoing maintenance payments to help with the daily care of a child designated for adoptions subsidy. The social worker for the adoptive parents can assist parents in completing the application for subsidy form.

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